Jen Dyrhaug is like a lot of women who join Moms on the Run — she never thought she'd run a marathon. What makes her story so unique is that simply breathing is a daily workout. Jen has cystic fibrosis, a genetic, fatal disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits her ability to breathe. Every day, she must take medication and complete treatments to prevent thick mucus build-up in her lungs. Running a marathon should be impossible for Jen, yet she's ready to run two in 2019.
Kristen Genet, one of Jen's MOTR coaches who nominated her, shares, "Jen is such an inspiration. Despite managing breathing issues and cystic fibrosis, she sets huge goals and works her tail off every single day to achieve them. I can not wait to cheer her across the finish line of her first marathon this year!" Read on to learn more of Jen's inspiring story.
Q: When did you join Moms on the Run? What inspired you to start?
A: I started spring 2018. I joined MOTR to work on my endurance. I also needed a lot of motivation to run. I was never a runner before MOTR and it took a lot for me to drag myself outside to go for a run.
Q: When were you diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and how does it affect your daily life? Tell us about some of your struggles in the past and how you have learned to live with that disease.
A: I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when I was young. CF is a fatal lung disease. Only 5% of CF patients are over 40 years old. I have to take antibiotics and complete vest therapies each day to keep my lungs clear. I used to not be able to walk even a block before I got out of breath and have been hospitalized more times than I can count. With exercise (strength and cardio) my lung capacity has increased! It is a miracle to both me and my doctors. Last year I ran my first half-marathon at Grandma's in Duluth (MN), followed by multiple other half marathons in 2018. I never thought that was possible. This year I’m signed up for my first full marathon (one again, Grandma's)! I am also running a second marathon (Chicago) in October! The weather affects my lungs. Whether it be running in humid or freezing weather, I have to make sure my lung capacity stays clear by doing my therapies each and every day to keep healthy. It takes a lot of time every day, but is the only way my lungs can stay healthy in order for me to do what I now love...run!
Q: How has Moms on the Run impacted your life?
A: MOTR has greatly impacted my life! I have met a wonderful group of ladies who I never would have met if I didn’t take the plunge and join. I was never a runner before MOTR and now I am proud to call myself a runner! I would never have been able to run a half marathon (or multiple) in 2018 if it wasn’t for MOTR. The training runs helped so much in getting my endurance up, increasing my speed (my speed increased over 2 minutes per mile from when I started MOTR to end of 2018), and has helped my health tremendously. I definitely would not be in training mode for a marathon. I always said I would NEVER run a marathon in my lifetime! Now I’m running two in 2019!
Q: Give us a glimpse into your personal life. (Family, work inside or outside the home, hobbies, etc.)
A: I live in Blaine, MN with my husband, Mike, and my 9 year old son, Josh. We have a 4-year-old Golden Retriever, Chase, who loves to go on runs with me. I work in downtown Minneapolis at Wells Fargo Advisors as an administrative assistant for an amazing team. I am a member of the Wells Fargo Running Club. This year I was actually elected as the Vice Chair of the Wells Fargo Running Club. I am so excited about starting this new leadership position! Some other things I really enjoy besides running are kickboxing, cross country skiing with my son (we just learned how to ski this year together), coffee dates with my girl pals, early morning gym workouts with my besties, and spending precious time with my family.